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Many restaurants in Quebec may close soon: 2024 'will be very painful'

Many restaurants in Quebec may close soon: 2024 'will be very painful'

The labor shortage and lack of customers are just the tip of the iceberg, as January 18th quickly approaches. Restaurant owners have to this date to repay a Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

On average, we are talking about an amount of at least $40,000.

“It will be very painful,” laments Martin Guimond, owner of Saint-Boc Brewery in Montreal. “I don’t understand that the federal government is ignoring this and stubbornly wants to recover this money at the expense of bankruptcies.”

According to Martin Vezina, vice-president of public and government affairs at the Association Restauration Québec, restaurant owners will not have the option to increase their prices until they are able to recoup this amount. In the end, it is the customers who will suffer.

Since March 2020, the face of catering has turned into a “disaster,” adds Mr. Guimond.

“Your bar closes at 10pm, and you clean up while you're out. Previously, we were open seven days a week from noon until often 3am.

“We were supposed to be living in the roaring twenties after the pandemic. People had to go out and life had to return to normal. This is not the case. “We have nothing but disaster.”

-Martin Guimond, owner of Saint Boc Brewery

The scourge of “no shows” is painful

In recent years, restaurateurs have faced countless “no-shows” – where customers call the restaurant to reserve a table and then end up not showing up. A phenomenon that can cost a restaurant owner about $47,000 a year, according to Martin Vezina.

For Mr. Guimond de Saint-Boc, this is a huge “disrespect.”

“It's as disrespectful as not showing up to work and not notifying my employer. You're making me lose a lot of money, a lot of income.”

What will be the fate of Quebec restaurants in 2024? The situation will be “difficult,” Mr. Vezina concluded during an interview with Noovo Info.

Watch Juliette Poiriot's report in the video.

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